Maternal Instincts And Economic Realities In Nigeria: Issues And Solutions

Project and Seminar Material for Sociology

Maternal Instincts And Economic Realities In Nigeria: Issues And Solutions


This research work investigated and provided solutions to the problem of maternal instincts and economic realities in Nigeria. The study came as a result of the prevalent issues of balancing work with home care. It has been observed that women especially in Nigeria find it difficult to balance work with home care and this is because of the harsh economic condition in the country that demands women to work and at the same time take care of their homes. This has been difficult for many of them especially the new couples to cope with. The followings were the research objectives: to determine the prevalence of maternal instinct and economic realities in Nigeria, to assess out the effects of maternal instinct on their households in Nigeria and to inquire the reasons for maternal instinct and economic realities in Nigeria.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

In cross-sectional relationships income has been seen to be significantly correlated with survival, both within and between countries. Preston (1976), in particular, using data collected from three separate countries for three separate decades of the 20th century, showed that at any point in time there was a positive significant relationship between national income per capita and life expectancy. Several studies for example the work of Cochrane et al. (1980) came to the same conclusion. Child mortality has been found to be directly related to the economic status of the family, but the measure of economic status used has not always been the same. The working mother has to keep the convincing stance that she is working not just for her own interest, but also for the sustenance of the family. (Wilson, 2006). Working women changed the image of a good mother from one who stayed at home to one who also took on extra burden for her family’s sustenance. A well to do woman would say she has enough money to spare and therefore she is only using her talents and skills to the best effect. In a case like that, the fundamental part is that it should not affect the health and well being of their children in any form. In southern Nigeria women participate to a high degree in the labour force. This section examines the cultural factors that encourage women to earn incomes, and the expected relationship between female income and child mortality. The discussion draws evidence from two ethnic groups – the Igbo and the Yoruba – who together comprise two thirds of the southern Nigeria sample. The traditional expectation among the Yoruba is that “each wife be responsible for her own and her children’s daily food and sundry needs. To some extent this is also true about the Igbo, whose women usually obtain food supplies from their own farms (Meek, 1937). It is also traditionally expected among the Yoruba that wives provide themselves with clothing, jewellery and dress for weddings and other ceremonies (Fadipe, 1970). Despite overt signs of deference [Yoruba] wives are generally expected to be economically independent, quick to divorce their husbands if they found a more advantageous match, and generally difficult to control”. These cultural expectations of the Yoruba and the Igbo appear to be shared by many other African societies such as the Akan of Ghana (McCall, 1961).

The result of these expectations, that women take care of themselves and their children, is the high degree of female labour force participation among southern Nigerian women. But this is not a recent phenomenon. Within both the, Igbo and the Yoruba societies women have traditionally taken an important role in economic activities. Igbo women used to farm together with their husbands while, at the same time, they were dominating trade in the rural markets. Yoruba women, on the other hand, hardly farmed; they were engaged in trading and in traditional crafts such as pottery and weaving (Lloyd, 1972). Apart from the traditional expectation that women contribute to the family, it was argued that, outside claims on husband’s income reduce the share going to a particular wife, motivate women to seek their own income and especially so increase the reliance of children on their mother’s economic resources. The outside claims on a man’s resources are by his relatives, his other wives (or girlfriends) and their children. In fact, according to Izzett (1961), the urban Yoruba husband often does not regard his wife and a child as having first claim on his wage or salary, but instead feel that his mother, his siblings or cousins have prior claims. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 stated that it is important to create a balance with the demands of the workplace and the needs of families, to ensure the stability and economic security of families, and to promote national interests in preserving family integrity; to entitle employees to take reasonable leave for medical reasons, for the birth or adoption of a child, and for the care of a child, spouse, or parent who has a serious health condition, and to promote the goal of equal employment opportunity for women and men. This research work aimed at investigating and providing solutions to the problem of maternal instinct and economic realities in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

A woman has the opportunity to choose between work and motherhood but the economic conditions of Nigeria do not give much room to that because presently the husbands alone cannot be the breadwinner but the wives must in one way or the other contribute to have sustainable and happy homes. Social conditioning brings about a situation where by the woman puts home before career even though no expense has been spared in her education and upbringing towards being independent. A situation in a household whereby both partners are employed changes drastically with the arrival of a child. Maternal instincts entail that during the early crucial weeks; the baby is likely, if not totally, in the mother’s care. During this period mother-child closeness becomes strong and sees many women willing opting out to pursue their careers. Women who at the end resume work after months of maternal leave are find themselves with the choice of career ambitions and natural childrearing instincts. Even in families where relatives, acquaintances or house helps attend to the child, a working mother still feels with guilty within her. Mutual understanding between spouses ensures that along with bringing in the income, both parents not only share the responsibilities of childcare and the immense fulfilment that comes with it, but also continue to enjoy each other’s company as partners. These attitudes and values are then propagated through the generations. That is why we do see many families where the working mother is not considered an anomaly but a welcome entity. This means that gender sensitivity must be cultivated at both the individual and social level so that as working parents, each partner has an equal responsibility towards the children, not merely by the ability to earn money but also by the inclination and commitment to be involved in the process of child rearing.

1.3 Research Questions

This research will be carried out to answer the following research questions:

  1. What is the prevalence of maternal instinct and economic realities in Nigeria?
  2. What are the effects of maternal instinct on their households in Nigeria?
  3. What are the reasons for maternal instinct and economic realities in Nigeria?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this study is to investigate and provide solutions to the problem of maternal instinct and economic realities in Nigeria.

The specific objectives include:

  1. To determine the prevalence of maternal instinct and economic realities in Nigeria
  2. To assess out the effects of maternal instinct on their households in Nigeria
  3. To inquire the reasons for maternal instinct and economic realities in Nigeria

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study will be of a benefit all mothers and even couples in Nigeria to create a balance between motherhood and economic realities of the country. It will make them to make rational decision that will benefit them and their homes. It will be an eye opener to the government on how to govern the citizenry well and ensure those who are eligible to work are gainfully employed and by doing that, the dangling economic situation of this country will be a thing of history. Since research of this kind is very limited in Nigeria, therefore, this study will be of a great contribution to the body of literature in this area. It will also contribute to the area of developmental and applied psychology.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study will be carried out among selected married women in Lagos State, Nigeria. Information collected from these workers shall be subjected to further analysis and the results got from it shall be final.

1.7 Limitation of the study

The study focused on investigating and providing solutions to the problem of maternal instinct and economic realities in Nigeria. The researcher was faced with time constraint of getting the targeted respondents to get the desired information. The researcher was also faced with the problem of reading the questions to some women who could not read and write. Some of them were unwilling to give adequate information needed for this research work. This was tedious and time consuming.

1.8 Definitions of Terms

The following terms were used in the course of this study:

Economic Realities:

Refers to a method that determines the nature of a business transaction by examining the totality of the commercial circumstances. The test also determines if a particular instrument is an investment contract.

Maternal Instinct:

A woman’s desire to have a child is called her maternal instinct, and if you care for other people in a nurturing way you are being maternal, even if you are not a mother. Your mother’s mother is your β€œmaternal grandmother.


A means of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation.

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